As the temperatures cool off, Clay/Owen County residents will find that they are sharing their homes with Asian Lady Beetles. The beetles will be looking to find a warmer place to hunker down for protection. These Asian Lady Beetles are not the same typical lady beetles that we commonly and fondly remember. Rather they are relevantly new to our area during the last decade. A dozen of the same beetles can vary significantly in color from yellow to red. Furthermore some have many black spots whereas others may lack spots altogether. The most distinguishing characteristic that all Asian Beetles have regardless of color and black spots is a black "M" on their thorax between the head and wing covers.
Asian Beetles do have the beneficial impact of feeding on aphids and scales that damage plants. However when hundreds or even thousands of them congregate on inside walls in the house, we tend to quickly forget about any of their benefits. As the temperatures cool in the fall, the beetles will congregate in large numbers on buildings. They are especially attracted to abrupt longitudinal (up and down) color changes on buildings. Examples are black shutters on white houses, dark windows on light colored homes, or light colored downspouts on dark colored homes. Other attractions include bright or southwest facing sides, and buildings close to woods or groups of yard trees. We can begin to see the largest numbers by mid October and through the end of the month.
The beetles will be looking for cracks and crevices to find protection from the cold. Such places include under siding, wall voids, attics, garages, foundation cracks and similar openings. Once in the cracks they find their way to door jams, window sills, floor cracks etc. and enter inside the home. During winter the beetles hibernate and home dwellers may be tricked into believing the beetles have departed. However the first warm and sunny winter day and particularly towards late winter or early spring, it may seem as if the beetles have multiplied into epic proportions. This is not the case, but due to congregating in one location, the beetles may be found in hundreds or even thousands on living room or other interior home walls.
What can be done about the beetles? Now is the time to fill cracks and crevices for winter. This will help to reduce entry points for beetles or maybe even keep your home a little warmer and save on heating bills.
The beetles do not directly damage the home or anything in it such as food or clothes. They are mostly an annoyance though they do have a foul odor when disturbed. In addition, when one is perspiring they are especially annoying as they pinch when they land on bare skin. From personal experience, they feel like something biting the neck when a beetle had unknowingly gotten between the shirt and neck. Probably the most serious consequence of the Asian Beetles in the home is the fact that accumulations of dead beetles or particles of dried and crushed beetles may become airborne giving trouble to those with asthma and allergies. One control method is to vacuum beetles though one should be sure to remove the bag since beetles can find their way out of the vacuum while it sits in the closet. Avoiding home features that attract the beetles has merit. Chemical control is difficult as it is rare that all of the beetles are exposed at any given time. Foggers work for exposed beetles but will not kill beetles still in seclusion. Perimeter treatments during late fall will also help prevent beetles from getting into the home. The best materials are those that leave a long lasting residue. Wettable powders, micro-encapsulated and suspended concentrate formulations work best. Purdue publication E-214 entitled "Asian Lady Beetle" lists an entire page of products known to help control the beetles.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 Ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
Nov. 4 Election Day-Extension Offices Closed
Nov. 11 Veteran's Day-Extension Offices Closed
Nov. 13 Bi-state Farm Management Program, Beef House
Nov. 18 Purdue Extension-Owen County Annual Meeting, Fairgrounds, 6:30
Nov. 27-28 Thanksgiving Holiday-Extension Offices Closed
Dec. 2 Bi-state Crops Program w/ PARP & CCH credits, Beef House, 8:30 a.m.
Dec. 5-6 Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention, Evansville
Dec. 11 Farm Income Tax Program, Brazil, 7 p.m.
Dec. 16-17 Certified Crop Advisor Conference, Indianapolis